Gallup has to dig into every nook and cranny of the electorate when it comes to the presidential election, so when things get slow they have time to get into some absolutely hypothetical demographic questions. That was the case this week with what seems to be a fairly simple and innocuous question.
The “fill in the blank” on the question above offered a rather dizzying array of choices. And on pretty much all of them, at least half of Americans responding were willing to give somebody a look if they wanted to run for president. You could be a Catholic, a Jew, a Mormon, Muslim or even an atheist. The color of your skin or your gender (assuming we didn’t wrongly accuse you of being the wrong gender, that is…) didn’t matter. All were welcome. Well… at least all but one.
The only group with a majority saying they could never consider them were socialists. (And for the record, evangelicals were on the list and got a thumbs up.) That’s got to be fairly disheartening to Bernie Sanders. More than half the country has ruled him out before he even started. But how many people really have a grip on the whole socialism thing? Sure… it’s easy to pick on Bernie because he’s at least honest enough to list himself as a socialist on his registration forms and on his website. And at least in Vermont, that’s not a disqualifier. But other Americans seem to have a bit longer memory.
Depending upon which flavor of socialism you’re discussing, most folks with a longer sense of history associate the original socialist movements with the French Revolution and the writings of Karl Marx. (Though on the latter you’re already veering off into the ongoing debates about where socialism and communism intersect and diverge. Yes, you probably have your own opinions, but the origins remain a bit murky.) It was, and to a significant extent remains, a firmly anti-capitalist, share the wealth agenda. And if you’re into the whole free love thing, that might sound great, but it carries with it the implied message that the government knows better than the individual. (Or the states and municipalities as applied to modern America.) Turning everything over to Big Brother and letting him redistribute it is a more reliable system than letting selfish humans achieve what they are able to by dint of their own skills and effort.
Now that I phrase it like that I guess it’s really not that far afield from contemporary liberal theory and the tenets of the Democrat Party. But then again, why was I surprised? The poll didn’t show that a socialist president would be unpopular… just the least popular. And what percentage were in favor of it? Go back to the top and look.
It was 47%. Damn you, Mitt, you glorious bastard.